Which is the Perfect Interior Paint Finish for Your Project?

Written by Angie's List Staff
Updated March 11, 2016
bucket of paint and paintbrush
Once you've chosen a paint color, determine which type of finish will perform best in the room you're painting. (Photo by Katelin Kinney)

Choosing the right paint for your project begins with understanding the four main options.

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A simple way to renew the look of your home's interior is to add a fresh coat of paint. You'll be able cover smears and imperfections on your walls, plus brighten up your space.

Once you choose the color, the next decision is selecting the type of interior paint. Choosing the right paint for your project begins with understanding the different options.

Flat paint

This type is often used by contractors. It has a matte finish and does not reflect light. Flat paint does not wash well so cleaning the wall will result in loss of paint saturation on the wall. However, its main advantage is that it hides imperfections on walls well.


Eggshell paints have matte finishes and an attractive, understated shine. It will wash slightly better than flat paints, allowing for light cleaning when needed. However, it will not hide imperfections on surfaces as well as flat paints.


A satin features a medium gloss finish that reflects a greater level of light. It's a common choice for bathrooms and kitchens. The final finish is not high-gloss, but it is very smooth and attractive. Imperfections will not be hidden, but the paint is highly washable and will stand up to high levels of humidity.

Semi-gloss and high-gloss

These types of paint are the most reflective paint finishes. They are excellent choices for kitchens, bathrooms and high traffic areas as they can withstand high humidity and a great deal of washing. Semi-gloss and high-gloss are often picked for painting baseboards and other trim pieces due to how easy the finish is to clean. Also, these types are ideal for furniture as they give a nice sheen to the wood. Like satins and eggshells, semi-gloss and high-gloss finishes will not hide imperfections on the wall well.

Editor's note: This is an updated version of an article originally posted on Feb. 28, 2011.

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